National Signing Day: Fort LeBoeuf athletes add to list of area college signees

Harbor Creek seniors Maura Benim and Reagan Rand pose Nov. 10, 2021, after their formal commitments to NCAA athletic programs upon graduation next spring. Benim will play Division III women's volleyball for Penn State Behrend and Rand will play Division I softball for Seton Hall University.

Fort LeBoeuf was the most recent Erie County school to hold a college signing ceremony as three athletes committed to competing in college on Monday.

Lauren Dahn is the latest player from the successful girls volleyball program to play at the next level as she will head to West Chester, while Mackenzie Huston will play both soccer and run track for Edinboro and Hayden Skinner will run track at Edinboro as well. All three athletes are multisport athletes for the Bison.

Lauren Dahn, West Chester volleyball – Dahn is an all-region and all-district volleyball player for the Bison. She played four years of volleyball, four years of track and field and one year of basketball and is also a member of student council.

Dahn said she wanted to go to West Chester first for their elementary education program and volleyball became a bonus. She wants to be an elementary education teacher to follow in the footsteps of both of her parents.

Hayden Skinner, Edinboro track – Skinner will likely compete in the hurdle events and run some relays as well for the Fighting Scots. Skinner competed in track all four years at LeBoeuf to go with four years of football and one year of basketball. He said he chose Edinboro for its physical therapy program and wants to open his own practice one day. Skinner also said he went out for track in eighth grade because people told him he was fast and it worked out.

Mackenzie Huston, Edinboro soccer and track – Huston has been a soccer player her whole life and decided three years ago to try track. COVID-19 cut her first season short but then she had a big junior year as an all-region hurdler. Huston will study secondary education in hopes of becoming a teacher and she will finish with four years of soccer and three years of track at LeBoeuf. She came out for track after being encouraged by her friends because of her speed and the coaches asked her to also run the hurdles.



Reagan Rand's quest to play major college softball started even before her first appearance in Harbor Creek's dugout.

Nothing, according to the senior, would to deter her from making that a reality.

Not an opponent, like those the Huskies faced.

Not an injury, like the one to her wrist that required surgery.

And definitely not herself.

“I make everything a competition,” Rand said. “I just want to be on the field.”

Rand played only five games as a junior because of her surgery. She expects to return as the full-time catcher for the 2022 Huskies.

After that, Rand hopes to immediately start behind the plate for Seton Hall University. She became an official candidate to do that for the Division I Pirates and coach Angie Churchill when she signed a national letter of intent to attend the South Orange, New Jersey, school.

Rand signed during Wednesday's ceremony held in Harbor Creek's library.

Maura Benim, a member of the Huskies' undefeated girls volleyball team, also confirmed her college intentions during that event. She'll resume playing next fall at Division III Penn State Behrend.

Rand toggled between relief and excitement about the significance of Wednesday's signing.

“I've been shaking all day knowing that all of my hard work paid off, (including) coming back from the injury,” she said. “I knew I wanted to play college softball four years ago. Ever since then, it's been pedal down. No stops."

Rand also confirmed she plans to resume diving for Harbor Creek's aquatics program. The wrist injury denied her the chance at repeating as District 10's Class 2A gold medalist last season.

Benim is an outside hitter for Harbor Creek's volleyball team, which improved to 22-0 with Tuesday's victory over Seton-LaSalle in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament.

The Huskies will travel to Greensburg for Saturday's state quarterfinal against the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties, who are also undefeated at 19-0. That anticipated match is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Hempfield High School.

Other Erie County students who formally committed to NCAA athletic programs on Wednesday:


Dan Snyder, University of Louisville baseball: Expects to pitch for the Division I Cardinals.

Last season, Snyder was a first-team, all-region player and was voted the region's pitcher of the year based on his 0.66 earned-run average and 57 strikeouts. He also had a .452 batting average.

“He's a model player for our program and will be a great asset for the Cardinals,” McDowell coach Mark Soboleski said during the ceremony.

Owen Hardner, Mercyhurst University water polo: Will graduate as the Trojans' career scoring leader, a total that included 91 this past season.

Hardner also is a four-time District 10 gold medalist in swimming. He can add to that total when the Trojans' 2021-22 season starts next month.

Katelyn Hoffman, Gannon University women's lacrosse: The daughter of McDowell coach Kate Hoffman was a two-time, all-District 10 selection during her first three seasons with the Trojans.

“The first question I'm always asked is, 'Is it hard to coach your own child,'” Kate Hoffman said. “The answer is always no. She's made it easy for me. Katelyn is driven on and off the field, making her a natural leader.”

Alexa Panetta, Walsh University women's lacrosse: Recorded 19 goals and 15 assists for the Trojans over their 2019 and 2021 seasons, with the 2020 season cancelled because of COVID-19.

Panetta was voted an all-District 10 first team player last season. She'll play for the Canton, Ohio, school and the Division II Cavaliers.

Sarah Tomko and Gabrielle Ellsworth, Edinboro University women's soccer: Will remain teammates once they suit up for the Fighting Scots next year.

Tomko totaled nine goals and five assists over her first three seasons for the Trojans. Ellsworth's top scoring season was as a sophomore, when she had 10 goals and assisted on eight others.

The duo's high school soccer career isn't over yet thanks to McDowell's 2-1 overtime victory over Seneca Valley during Tuesday's first round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament. The Trojans will take on Central Dauphin in Saturday's quarterfinal match at Hollidaysburg.

Hannah Powierza, Clarion University softball: Will graduate as a top catcher for McDowell.

Powierza was an all-region player at that position and the team's former defensive most valuable player award recipient. She goes into her last spring in a McDowell uniform with a career batting average of .269.

Cathedral Prep

Jacob Van Dee, Nebraska wrestling: Van Dee had a dream junior season with an 18-1 record and state championship in the 113-pound weight class. Van Dee won a dramatic state championship match and enters this winter with a record of 92-20.

"I loved it when I visited Nebraska and they are in the Big 10 and I want to compete at the highest level," Van Dee said. "I took all my visits, which was an awesome experience, but I knew Nebraska had everything I wanted."

Van Dee plans to study electrical engineering.

Jacob Cooper, D'Youville baseball: Cooper was the starting right fielder for the Ramblers this past year and hit .291 with 12 stolen bases.

Cooper plans on studying physical and occupational therapy.

Villa Maria

Ella Raimondi, Dayton soccer: Raimondi has been a dominant force on the soccer field, including four goals in a 4-3 win in the PIAA first round on Tuesday. Raimondi committed to Dayton before the season and is set to play Division I soccer.

"There are so many reasons I chose Dayton, including their great engineering program," Raimondi said. "Also, I love the coaches. They really care about you as a person. They just finished the Atlantic 10 with one of their best records since 2015."

Raimondi wants to one day work for NASA in designing rockets and working on missions to space.

Megan Maholic, South Carolina swimming: Maholic has numerous state medals including several state championships in her career. She fell in love with South Carolina on her visit and knew that was the right fit.

"It has always been a dream of mine. I know everyone says that but it really has been a dream of mine since I was a kid to go Division I in swimming," Maholic said. "To be able to do it in the SEC is really special. Everything about South Carolina was perfect."

Maholic plans on studying journalism on a pre-law track.

Kasey Smith, Edinboro volleyball: Smith, a powerful middle hitter who was an all-District 10 selection in 2020, had played travel volleyball for Edinboro coach Missy Soboleski growing up and wanted to play for her at the next level. Smith is also excited about Edinboro's nursing program as well.

Karlee Berchtold, Clarion volleyball: Berchtold is an all-state volleyball player who never imagined she would get a chance to play in college. She said she signed up for the sport in seventh grade because her friends were playing and she ended up loving the sport. Berchtold plans on entering the pre-med program but isn't sure what kind of doctor she wants to be yet.

Carissa Dunham, Mount St. Mary's basketball: The sharpshooter is a leader for the Victors and chose Mount St. Mary's for its family atmosphere. Dunham is a constant 3-point threat for the Victors and could be in for a big senior season. Dunham said she wants to study sports management to stay in basketball after her college career.

Daniela Shaughnessy, IUP basketball: Shaughnessy was a key contributor to the Victors last winter as they made a run to Hershey. She felt a strong connection to the coach and program at IUP and plans on studying psychology to become a child psychologist.

Staff writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Fort LeBoeuf athletes add to list of area college signees